History Paper on Many Rivers to Cross – The Age of Slavery

Many Rivers to Cross – The Age of Slavery

The tale of the African-American people revolves around settlement and development of America itself. This account of events, as demonstrated in Many Rivers to Cross, depicts a new experience of an African-American person. In the second part of the documentary, the African-Americans are depicted as slaves in their masters’ home. They have no authority and the law did not favor runaway slaves. Some rebels managed to change the destiny of African American through religion and demonstrations. The Age of Slavery, which is a second episode in the documentary, exemplifies how African-Americans’ encountered problems in the hands of their masters, and how their lives changed through rebellion and collaboration with antislavery white activists.

African American Slavery

At the beginning of the nineteen century, more than 700,000 African-American slaves were working in cotton and tobacco plantations. They had neither rights nor power to decide anything. In Massachusetts, slavery was a lawful trade. American Revolution had brought new laws that did not prohibit slavery. Nevertheless, a certain woman who was working in one of the whites’ house got hold of a Constitution, which stated that all men are free. She managed to free and informed her fellow male slaves of their rights. Her strive to inform her male slaved helped in starting a rebellion.

As the trade in slave intensified, so was the resistance. The Second Middle Passage was termed as the worst time in the history of slavery. In this era, a large number of slaves were traded from their homes from the Upper South regions into the Deep South to work in plantations owned by white people. This passage was quite devastating than the first passage, as slaves were chained together around their necks. The long journey to the south led to death of many slaves, and that is the reason why people called it the second “middle passage.” The passage lasted 70 years, and left destruction to many families that were on the verge of becoming stable. In the night, women were raped. Women interested some traders, since they would bore the next generation of slaves.

Several individuals, who included Richard Allen and Frederick Douglass, worked hard to push the issue of slavery into the national politics. As a slave, Rich Allen managed to free and became antislavery activist through religion. He fought equality even in church. Allen’s actions were equaled to what Barack Obama did in 2008: their actions were beyond imagination to many African Americans. Fredrick Douglas’ story also inspired many African-Americans to fight for their rights. Douglas managed to escape from slavery after several attempts. He started the Abolitionist movement and joined black preachers to preach antislavery.

Likes and Dislikes

The part I liked most is the part played by Richard Allen in the fight for the black people’s rights. Allen had developed good relationship with his master, who was religious. As people embraced the spirit of rebellion, they were attracted to preachers, who talked of how Israelites were rescued from Egypt by God through Moses. Allen convinced the anti-slavery preachers to talk to his master of his deeds. When his masters were convinced that his actions were wrong, he freed the slaves. Allen managed to free and became a preacher in Philadelphia. When he found that the white preachers were segregating black people, he opted to confront them, and later started the first African American Church. His church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, still stand strong even today.

However, I dislikes Margaret Garner’s incident, where she opted to kill her own daughter to prevent her from being taken back as a slave. Garner had managed to free from her master’s house, where she worked as house slave. She got married to a fellow slave who they bore four children. She and her family decided to flee, but her husband stole his master’s horse and gun. As the family prepared to leave the city to join fellow blacks, slave catchers cornered them. Garner opted to kill her daughter, rather than see her taken back to slavery. Although she was lauded for her action, I personally did not find it ethically right.


Although many slaves and black heroes were executed and buried in unmarked graves, new breed emerged to continue with what their predecessors had started. The 400, 000 slaves that left Africa had multiplied to 4 million before the Civil War. Some slaves were daring enough to kill their masters and run to freedom. Some managed to flee to Canada, where freedom was assured to all, including African-Americans. In Canada, churches played a vital role in connecting runaway slaves to their families.